Be a football fanna Panna!

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Gaz Elsdon, the Panna and Freestyle Football Coach at Garstang Leisure Centre with the volunteer coaches. From left, Liam Potter, Luke Irving, Charlie Winyard, Ian Dickinson and Ryan Moulding
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Gaz Elsdon, the Panna and Freestyle Football Coach at Garstang Leisure Centre with the volunteer coaches. From left, Liam Potter, Luke Irving, Charlie Winyard, Ian Dickinson and Ryan Moulding
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A DUTCH street football craze is proving to be a big hit with Garstang youngsters.

‘Panna’ sessions at Garstang Leisure Centre are attracting up to 60 footie-mad six to 14-year-olds, keen to learn the tricks of the trade in the fast-moving cult game.

Panna is the Surinamese/Dutch slang term for playing the ball through the legs of your opponents, known here as a ‘nutmeg’.

Unlike football games, Panna is all about individual technique and skill.

The game involves playing one-on-one or two-on-two in an inflatable football pitch, or cage, played to music, indoor or outdoor.

The games last for just three minutes, and the game is over if you ‘nutmeg’ your opponent.

The sessions are being put on by primary school PE teacher Gaz Elsdon.

Gaz has been teaching at Nateby, Dolphinholme and, recently, Winmarleigh primary schools under the business Fun-Time Football, and over the past few years has been organising Panna and freestyle sessions to improve youngsters’ ball skills.

Gaz says: “It’s brilliant because it’s one against one, so there is no child that feels left out, everybody gets to play.

“I want to give children somewhere to go that’s fun, safe and somewhere they can learn and play with their mates, while having fun.

“People sometimes think that because it is ‘street’ football, that it’s rough or there are no rules, but it’s not like that – it’s about skill and technique, and about the kids enjoying themselves.’’

Gaz now hopes to organise an inter-schools Panna tournament to promote the sport, probably at the leisure centre.

In the meantime, the Panna sessions continue at the leisure centre on Saturday mornings, 10.30am to 12.30pm. You can just turn up and pay £2 for the two-hour session, and there’s no need to register in advance. But for more details you can contact Gaz Elsdon at fun-time-football@hotmail.com or call 07530720752.